For the first time in five years, a suspected case of polio from the capital’s suburbs was reported on Friday.
Samples from Muhammad Zain, a two and a half year old boy and a resident of Kurri Road, Phagwari, have been collected by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to test him for poliomyelitis. In 2007, eight polio cases were reported from Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and since then the region has remained polio-free.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Saeed Ahmed, Zain’s father said his son stopped walking 20 days ago. He took his son to the doctor who recommended that Zain should be tested for polio. Ahmed is employed as a driver in Islamabad and has three children. Zain is his second-born and has never missed a polio vaccine.
“I also took him to Shifa International Hospital where the doctor prescribed laboratory tests,” he said. Zain has no travel history; his movement is restricted between Phagwari and F-10 sector.
Sources in Polio Virology Laboratory at NIH said it will take around two weeks for the results to arrive. He said basic symptoms of polio virus is high-grade fever and signs of weakness or periodic paralysis in the lower limbs of the body. But it is important to note that the symptoms are similar to those of 200 diseases.
It is clinically impossible to diagnose polio and only one laboratory at NIH is equipped to detect polio cases across the country. When contacted, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed expressed ignorance about the suspected case.
Poilio vaccines procurement in doldrums
Meanwhile, in a National Steering Committee (NSC) meeting held on Friday in the Committee Hall of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) expressed concern over the delay in forwarding a proposal for funding the procurement of polio vaccines by the Economic Affairs Division (EAD).
The EAD was supposed to forward a proposal of $24 million to the Islamic Development Bank to fund the procurement of polio vaccines. It is feared that this delay may cause a serious crisis of polio vaccines in 2013 in Pakistan as the government has done nothing in this regard.
The meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and Secretary of Inter-Provincial Coordination Anisul Hasnain Musavi, representatives of WHO, Unicef, Jica, Rotary International and World Bank were present at the occasion.
The participants also expressed concern over the outbreak of measles in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Tribal representatives said five children have been severely affected with measles whose condition is serious and they are admitted in a hospital in Miramshah. They demanded the federal government to assist in launching special immunisation campaign to control the situation.
It was also highlighted in the meeting that there is an outbreak of measles in Balochistan, where eight districts have been affected and 600 cases have been reported.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.